Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been fighting against ISIS since 2014. File photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi abandoning his soldiers who are continuing to die for him in “territory that he has escaped from himself” is “a fool’s errand,” the international coalition to defeat ISIS has told Rudaw, given the $25 million reward for information that leads to the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State.
The US-led international coalition believes Baghdadi is not in territories that ISIS continues to hold on to like parts of western Mosul and Raqqa.
“What we’ve known for a long time is he is hidden, while at the same time he has ordered his soldiers stand and fight and die in territory that he has escaped from himself,” Col. John Dorrian of the US-led international coalition to defeat ISIS told Rudaw.
“So this is a fool’s errand for his fighters and they’re being killed,” Dorrian added.
The Russian Foreign Ministry denied reports that Baghdadi had been arrested in Syria.
“We are not aware of the arrest of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, caliphate of the Islamic State, and have not received any information or clarification on this regard,” staff of the ministry’s media office told Rudaw on April 18.
The US State Department upped its reward to $25 million in December for information that leads to the killing or capturing of Baghdadi, who is also known as Abu Dua or Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri. The State Department said those with information should contact their nearest US embassy or consulate, or Rewards for Justice.
Dorrian called this a “a rich reward for just doing the right thing.”
Recently the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC), whose Counter Terrorism (CT) department oversees security and intelligence in Kurdistan and coordinates with the coalition in air strikes against ISIS, has confirmed strikes against and killings of a number of high-ranking ISIS officials.
Coalition strikes “seriously injured” ISIS’s chief of the Euphrates area on Saturday, Hassan Saoud Khalil Khalifa Al-Abouri, also known as Abu Talout, according to the KRSC. Al-Jabouri “was targeted in his house in the Rifaai neighborhood” of western Mosul, KRSC announced.
On the same day airstrikes killed Ali Raza Mahmoud, the head of ISIS’ education department in Tal Afar, according to the KRSC.
ISIS’ media chief, Khalid Hamza Al-Maamouri, was killed by coalition airstrikes on April 16 in Syria, the KRSC confirmed.
Abdulrahman Uzbeki was confirmed killed by the CT in Syria on April 12, adding that he was “responsible for group’s financial and logistical affairs, [including] movement of fighters.”
The other option for ISIS members is to surrender to Iraqi forces and face judges.
“A large number of ISIS militants have surrendered to the security forces and it is ongoing,” said Najim al-Jabouri, the Iraqi commander of the Nineveh Operations Command in early April.
“Upon the request of the surrendering militants, the general commander of the armed forces has guaranteed the militants that they will be tried just and their lives will be protected until the court has issued their verdicts per their crimes.”